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Sportsister tests: Kettlebell Dynamic Pilates

February 17, 2010

Are you looking for something that offers a cardio workout, combined with strengthening and flexibility? Try this unique new style of pilates that uses both kettlebells and a reformer machine.

kettle-bell-pilates-classWhat’s it all about?

Pilates, as many of you will know, is a mat based body conditioning exercise that concentrates on your core, while lengthening and strengthening muscles and improving posture.

Dynamic pilates is a much more active method as you use a reformer pilates machine that adds resistance and allows you to work your entire body not just your core.

By adding kettlebells into the mix you also get a cardio workout and it strengthens the back muscles too. It has been created by trainer Rosario La Pietra at Pilates K.

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Getting started

The first thing you have to do is get to grips with the reformer machine, which in my class was compared to everything from a modern day torture chamber to gynecologist’s stirrups!

It has a leather carriage area that you lay, sit, kneel or stand on which has several colour coded springs of varying strength attached to it to provide resistance. There’s also an adjustable footbar, shoulder blocks, a head rest and straps that can be hooked under your feet or around your wrists.

The carriage is moved by pushing against the foot bar, or by pulling the straps at the other end of the machine. The basic principle is that you will be pushing or pulling yourself on the carriage against the resistance provided by your own body weight and the springs.

Kettlebell drills (lifting the kettlebells in a swinging motion whilst squatting) are performed intermittently throughout the class.

kettle-bell-pilates-class-2So what exactly do I do?

Each class starts with you laying on your back on the machine and using a pilates circle you stretch out both legs to warm up. Your instructor will then take you through a series of exercises throughout the hour long class. There are dozens of different moves to work all parts of your body depending on your level. These can involve stretches, lunges, squats, crunches and more besides. Fundamentally, it is the repetition of the moves and drills, performed correctly and with precision, that provide the most significant and impressive results. By introducing kettlebell drills, either as arm weights whilst on the machine, or combined with squats off the machine you will find your heart rate rises and you introduce a cardio element to the workout.

What are the benefits?

This style of dynamic pilates uses the whole body not just the core like in mat pilates and you will certainly notice the changes in your body a lot quicker with this method. You will build up your arm, leg and core strength considerably with regular practice.

Likewise it is great for flexibility. Personally I have never been very flexible, and regular running does nothing to help this, but throughout the 10 week course for the first time in as long as I can remember I was able to touch my toes – a small miracle! It’s also really good for your posture, particularly if you are sat hunched over a computer all day.

The use of kettlebells intensifies the work out and adds cardio benefits, they are excellent at boosting energy, burning fat effectively and building an iron core.

Who does it suit?

This particular style is designed for those that already have some pilates experience. If you are a total beginner it is recommended that you start with a introductory dynamic pilates course and move onto the kettlebell combination once you have mastered the basics on the machine.

This is not a relaxing or meditative style of class – it will make you sweat, your muscles will shake and you will ache the next day. But it makes a great complement to many other disciplines such as martial arts, running or skiing. Many professional sports people use dynamic pilates to improve performance, reduce the risk of injury, enhance body conditioning and add extra variety to their training.

And once you do progress on to the kettlebells it is a very efficient way of working your whole body so will appeal to time poor fitness fans.

Where can I do it?

Trainer Rosario La Pietra from Pilates K studio in central London has designed this workout and at present this is the only place in the UK you can do it. She is also looking at introducing a rebounder (mini trampoline) into her classes too. In the States they combine pilates with boxing showing how you can really mix exercises together. But look out for similar classes in your area as this trend is sure to spread in 2010.

Pilates K
12-14 Devonshire Row
London, EC2M
Tel: 020 7377 1819
www.pilatesk.co.uk

Louise Hudson, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

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